Michael Graham: Let the nuns build a casino and people build a hospital

'I would rather deal with the mob than deal with these nuns'

Michael Graham: Let the nuns build a casino and people build a hospital

A man carrys a car seat while entering the National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street | Image: RollingNews.ie

US radio host and political commentator Michael Graham says he believes the new National Maternity Hospital should be fully built by the private sector.

Last week, it was revealed a review is to be carried out into the status of the new facility.

The chairman of St Vincent's Healthcare Group, who owns the land where it is to be built, said it was due to "controversy and misinformation" regarding the project.

The Sisters of Charity are majority shareholders in the St Vincent's Healthcare Group.

Health Minister Simon Harris has claimed the group would receive no financial gain from the new hospital – and that he is confident criteria will be met as the project proceeds.

An agreement was signed in November 2016 providing for the corporate and clinical governance arrangements for the new maternity hospital.

The Sisters of Charity were party to a €128m redress scheme with the State in 2002 for child abuse which took place at its industrial schools.

According to a December 2016 Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) report, the group offered €5m towards the redress scheme - but have only paid €2m.

Michael Graham told High Noon: “If the taxpayers want to build a hospital, go ahead - I would leave the hospital building, quite frankly, to the private sector”.

“I’ve just got to believe there’s a price that would work for the nuns - or that there’s another property nearby.

“I read an article that said RTÉ might sell land – they’re certainly not very good at radio, they might as well do something.

“I just want to say this: Looking at the deals the nuns negotiated, they should skip the hospital and build a casino.

“I would rather deal with the mob in a deal than deal with these nuns – they shook you people down, they picked your pockets and smiled.”

He also says the management agreement means trouble ahead: “A management agreement to oversee the hospital...means that there are going to be ethical issues, probably.

“Particularly when you’re dealing with the issue of birth - because that deals with the issue of life - and all the problematic issues there”.